A Travellerspoint blog

Lefkada Island to Delphi to Athens

overcast 20 °C

After the shell shock of Albania we definitely needed someplace a little more beautiful to re-invigorate the senses. Lefkada Island is off the west coast of northern Greece and seemed to offer a few days of tranquility. Again we were a little early for the season so the place seemed like it was mostly ours but the landscape was very nice. The beach camping sites offer the usual crystal clear water and although the water was cold it didn't stop us from diving in. The small township of Lefkada is a bustling centre of restaurants and tourist shops but not bad for an afternoon. The best thing I found was the Greek favourite, Gyros. A Gyros is a flat bread filled with meat, sauce, a small bit of salad and chips. Couple that with a Heineken and you have the perfect meal for under six Euro. Best way to describe it... a posh kebab. We spent a couple of days on the island and then headed for the ancient centre of the universe... Delphi.
Delphi was once considered the centre of the universe where the Gods ascended into the heavens and anyone wishing to speak to Apollo or seeking councel did so at Delphi through the Oracle. The Oracle was a woman who would appear to be in a delirious state and would answer questions from any number of kings and rulers such as Alexander the great and the Spartans. This advice was taken very seriously. The Oracle would be chosen from any number of priestess' and provided she was up to the task, was given the role. Once chosen the oracle she would sit over a crack in the ground in the temple of Apollo and listen to the questions and speak through a trance like state like a medium. It has been suggested that methane gas would escape from the crack over the ground and the oracle was effectively stoned when giving advice to the world leaders. Probably not too far removed from today's leadership advice. The oracle would change from time to time especially since some of them would run off with the world leaders or their advice just wasn't up to scratch anymore. The chants were often cryptic so people would interpret them as they sought. Probably like a modern day fortune teller asking you if you are friendly and artistic.. of course you are ..amazing. Just hear what you want to hear. The site itself is worthy of being classed a wonder of the world. Perched high on the mountains you would definitely feel close to the Gods. In the distance is the harbour town of Itea where the boat loads of worshippers would begin their pilgrimage to Delphi. It must have taken days which would have added to the excitement. Delphi would have been a thriving town complete with it's own Gym and stadium, treasury building and numerous temples and houses. Clearly a place for the elite. The marble statues that must have adorned the place would have nearly outnumbered the residents. One thing about the statues.. none of them have their willy's on. Some one somewhere must have a whole box of them stored, there really should be something done about it. A restoration project perhaps. We spent a few days mixing with the Gods until moving on to Athens.

Posted by mike1967 23:00 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Montenegro-Albania-Greece

semi-overcast 19 °C

Some of the nicest things about travelling like this are the surprises you find on the way. This also works in the reverse of course and one of the disapointments was we never made it to Turkey for Anzac day. Unfortunately the roads are just not conducive to long distance travel over a short time. A three hour journey according to TomTom (lying bugger) can easily take eight hours so the decision had to be made to give Gallipolli a miss. We may make it yet, but flying instead of driving.
After a pretty lazy week or so in Dubrovnik we had to move on otherwise it would have been 2 months there. A beautiful spot called Mlini was the camp but Greece was calling so the run through Montenegro and Albania was next. We chose to forget about sightseeing and to do the drive over an easy 2 days by following the main motorway through both countries. Montenegro’s roads steadily got worse as we motored south, however the coast line similar to Croatia in parts without any of the tourism. Most of the real hard work came when we entered Albania. Albania is a very poor country and although there is construction everywhere there seems to be a lot of people out of work. The re-building of this country will be a long one. An odd site is the thousands of concrete bunkers that litter the countryside like little igloos. Apparently the previous regime instructed the people to build these to protect them from the ugly hordes coming over the hills to get them. The country is covered with them. The main highway through the country is not more than a winding, twisting dangerous goat track that can see anything from a fifty wheeled truck to a donkey pulling a cart. We split the drive over two days and we just about needed most of the hours to cover the six hundred odd kilometres. It was very difficult driving and very hard on the poor old van. We’d all just about had enough when we finally made a campsite. Quick dinner and into bed. The Albanian countryside can be spectacular at times especially in the southern parts but unfortunately you don’t get a chance to really see it trying to hold the van from falling off the road. We are now in Greece for the next few weeks.
Andiamo
Mike

Posted by mike1967 09:34 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Dubrovnik, Croatia

sunny 23 °C

After nearly being blown off the campsite we packed up our tin can and headed for the old town of Dubrovnik. It was supposed to be an easy drive down the coast promising more spectacular scenery. We were turned around by the police just after starting out because the wind was considered too dangerous for vehicles on the coast road. The detour was over a considerable mountain range and added about 3 hours onto the trip but for all the hassle it was probably worth it. The mountain range scenery was very nice and a surprise was the snow on top. We eventually crawled into Dubrovnik and made camp at a small site about 7km's from the city. Again on the water and stunning. The walk to the beach and cafe's is a little longer but just helps improve the appetite.
Dubrovnik's old walled city is the jewel in the Croatian crown. The walls encircle a medieval old town that has been in existence for over a thousand years. During the war in 1991 the Yugoslav army did their best to destroy the old city but all they managed to do was draw international condemnation for the bombings. The aftermath was devastating to the city but it looks like most has been repaired and re-built to it's former glory. The restoration must have been painstaking and there is still some work going on. For the most part the only way you can recognise new from old is new roof tiles and new pointing on the block work. The old marble cobbles appear to be unscathed as well as the monuments that seem to adorn every building however if you look a little closer shrapnel damage can be easily seen on most of the facade's. Old Dubrovnik still has a large population that lives within the walls however most of the general area is taken up with restaurants, cafe's and souvenir shops. There is a lovely easy feeling here that life seems to be run at a slower pace, maybe a legacy from the war but life seems to be appreciated more and enjoyed. Old people as well as young frequent the cafe's for a glass of beer or wine and just seem to share the day's news. For a better view of the city we climbed the old walls and had a birds eye view of life here, I must say it looked pretty good. Beautiful views, bright sunshine reflecting off pristine water and a great vibe coming from the cafe's. Add it to the list of places I could live for a while.

Posted by mike1967 02:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Split

To say the water temperature along the Adriatic coast is a little chilly at this time of year is like saying it can get a tad warm in Death Valley in Summer. I’m convinced Polar Bears come here for holidays. Looks can be deceptive as the warm days, crystal clear water and calm seas look inviting. The challenge went out early to see who was foolhardy enough to take a dip and of course there was no doubt, one in all in (except Pat, she’s the brains of the outfit and a girl). Matt braved the dive first and the cold literally took his breath away, instead of the usual yahoo it was more pure concentration and a steady stroke back in mumbling to himself about hypothermia, no smiles at all…not a good sign for me. I’d convinced myself that something so beautiful couldn’t possibly be so harmful and that Matt was a weakling so in I dived off the jetty ( we decided off the Jetty rather than the beach so full wetness and no going back). The cold hits with a serious shock to the body and like Matt I just wanted out. fast! I can say without any doubt in my mind that it was the coldest water I have ever been in. The temperature outside the water was about 17 degrees and it felt warm as soon as you were out. Brenton hadn’t witnessed our efforts because he was at the shops with Pat but when he returned we were waiting, convincing him that it wasn’t that bad. He was in mid dive when Matt told him he was lying. For the normally reserved person Brenton is it was hilarious to hear the string of expletives coming from him although again in a serious concentrated whisper. Matt and I tried one more time to see if it really was that cold and it wasn’t any easier the second time around. A thirty minute shower for Matt to warm up. Later in the day Bren fell in fully dressed. Don’t know what happened, one minute he’s throwing rocks off the pathway, next he’s tripped over his own feet and ended up coming up like a dunked kitten.
Pat and I took the bikes and had a great afternoon to ourselves around Senj. We rode the bikes up to the old castle, back down for a drink in a small pub and then decided we needed haircuts. Through gestures, pointing and probably a little interpretive dance we managed to get across what we wanted, mine was easy, anything is an improvement but the girl’s take their hair a little more seriously. Anyway good result after all the miming. The day was finished off with dinner at the pub and watching the mother of all electrical storms from the relative safety of our tin can. Off to Split tomorrow. Andiamo.

Posted by mike1967 08:48 Comments (0)

Croatia

sunny 24 °C

We made good use of the motorways today and made a line for Croatia. We were starting to go a little stir crazy not being near the water so it was time to smell the salt air. We are heading down the length of the country following the coastline that promises to be spectacular. Stopping in Senj for a night or two won't be a problem. The problem will be moving on. The water is crystal clear and our camp site is literally on the water. Matt's already started fishing. All for the bargain price of 20 euros. Sundowner drinks today will be a sober affair after last nights effort. Three and a half hours on Skype with John and Lorraine K left us with a couple of sore heads this morning. Patti and I have retired hurt for the evening so its tea and a good lay down. Amateurs! We will have to put in some serious training if we are even thinking of competing in Dublin.

Posted by mike1967 09:44 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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